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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Sadly, it has become increasingly difficult for most Anglicans to recognize this quality in the Episcopal Church’s leadership, and Bishop Jefferts Schori’s somewhat freewheeling sermon serves to highlight why. Some years ago, the Yale theologian David Kelsey pointed out that it’s axiomatic to say that the Scriptures are authoritative for the Church, since that’s the very definition of what it means to say that a text is canonical Scripture. So long as many conservative Anglicans cannot see how the Episcopal Church is answerable to the authority of the Scriptures, it will remain difficult for them to see the Episcopal Church as a Church. This has a very great deal to do with the schisms of the past decade.
My title promised two sermons from the presiding bishop, and I’ve only mentioned one. The second was preached in January, this time in Charleston, South Carolina. The occasion was the secession of the conservative diocese from the Episcopal Church, and her audience was comprised of those who had decided to stay and form a continuing Episcopal diocese. The story of why the South Carolinians left is a long and sad one—the diocese was one of the Church’s founders, older than the United States itself, and was one of the few growth spots in a generally shrinking Church—but suffice it to say that they felt pushed out, and did not leave until their bishop, Mark Lawrence, was inhibited in his ministry by a disciplinary board for reasons the diocese held were unfair. The national Episcopal Church is now pursuing the diocese in court, as they’ve done in many similar cases (by now, they’ve spent over $22 million in legal costs), seeking to recover property and assets.
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